Burkhard Starke 1941-2021

by ChessBase
2/27/2021 – Burkard Starke was first an enthusiastic chess player and later a committed trainer in Leipzig. He wrote instructive material and (chess) history books. He died a few days ago at the age of 79. An obituary by Rainer Knaak.

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A man of many talents

By Rainer Knaak

Burkhard Starke has made a name for himself as a chess trainer and author. ChessBase first published 100 Jahre Schach (100 Years of Chess), but Starke Bauernregeln, an extraordinary standard work for chess training, is probably even better known. On February 23, Burkhard Starke died unexpectedly.

Burkhard was still mentally up to the mark and physically fit. We had spoken on the phone the day before. He was always full of ideas and plans — a book is almost finished and will hopefully be published.

I met Burkhard at the beginning of 1970, when we both played for the 1st team of the Schachgemeinschaft Leipzig. In March, we  played the city tournament in Moscow (where SGL came second), and directly afterwards went to Riga to play another match. In April, we both played the final round of the GDR Special League in Dresden, i.e. 12 rounds in 9 days. Burkhard retired from chess for many years, but a friendship had already developed between us which has lasted until this day. Every visit to him expanded my world view, and not infrequently I was allowed to take something from his extensive library. 

Burkhard possessed many talents and not all of them were related to chess. In 2006, for example, he published an excellent book of limericks — 202 starke Limericks, BoD 2006, by Burkhard Heinrich. Some of them had already appeared in the GDR Eulenspiegel, while others had been rejected because they were not politically correct. Another work is Weltkrieg vom Hörensagen, BoD, by Burkhard Heinrich Starke, published recently, in December 2020.

But Burkhard was a passionate chess player above all. He achieved a rating of about 2100, but as a trainer he certainly possessed grandmaster strength. Burkhard led many junior teams from Motor Gohlis Nord (later merged into Schachgemeinschaft Leipzig) to the obtention of medals. His best-known protégé was Melanie Ohme (later Lubbe).

Burkhard Starke with Paul Gaffron

For many years he was the state coach of Saxony. But Burkhard also went to school chess clubs, and thus had to deal with pupils of very different levels as a trainer. For training, he used his own methods — rhymed mnemonics and rules of thumb that he invented, which usually depict simple facts, although he also created more complicated ones. This resulted in a unique teaching method, which he constantly expanded and improved for over 20 years thanks to input from practice. They were first published by ChessBase in 2007 as Starke Bauernregeln (Strong Pawn Rules) and are still available as a timeless product.

Three years later, the work was also published as a book — Starke Bauernregeln: The unwritten laws of chess in over 200 rhymed mnemonics and rules of thumb. The book was crafted with great effort and published by Edition Olms in 2010.

Starke Bauernregeln

The CD-Rom 100 Jahre Schach was published by ChessBase in 2000. The work was later published as Ein langes Schachjahrhundert by Beyer-Verlag. Burkhard made his contribution as a historian.

Langes Schachjahrhundert

Burkhard Starke died on 23 February 2021, presumably of heart failure. I will miss our never-ending conversations.


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